When the criminals capture Matt and one of children badly hurts an ankle, is there any hope of escape?
Matt shook his head.
“Did you see any of them?” I asked.
“No. Just the shed where you were and the hut past that. There didn’t seem to be anyone about.”
“Maybe you could go in now and just take Stripes,” Slick suggested. “If they catch you, you could say that about him belonging to a mate.”
Matt considered this for a while.
“Yeah, alright. But we’d better find a decent hiding place for you. This is too close to the hut. If they don’t believe me they’ll probably come looking for you.”
“They’ll believe you,” Slick assured him. “We could always wait for you back in the Grand Canyon.”
“No,” I said quickly. They looked at me, a bit surprised. “It’s too much of a dead end,” I hurried to explain. “Just one of them in the wrong place and we’re bottled in.”
That wasn’t my main reason, and Matt looked at me as if he knew what that reason was. But he didn’t say anything, and Slick thought it was a good point anyway.
“What about where we first came out, by the stream?” Matt said.
Both Slick and I vetoed that.
“First place they’d look,” said Slick.
“Too far away,” I said. “We need to stick closer together.”
It was a wood pigeon who solved the problem for us. She had been perched above us, waiting for us to move on. Now, disturbed by our voices or some predator, she exploded out of her tree with that heart-stopping rush pigeons have. I followed her flight to the trees around a small clearing on the hillside above us.
“There,” I said, pointing. “From up there we’ll be able to see the trees round the hut, and the stream and where they land the helicopter. They won’t expect us to be on the hill, either. They’ll think we’re in the caves or over by the stream.”
Slick agreed. “When we see you coming with Stripes we can come down and meet you at the bottom,” he said. “Then we can get out by that little gorge the stream makes.”
“Give us ten minutes,” I said. “Then go and get Stripes.”
Slick and I began to thread our way through the trees and were soon scampering up the hill. Poor Matt, he must have felt we were running away from him. But if Slick’s plan was going to work it had to be done this way. It didn’t take even the ten minutes for us to arrive at the clearing. We kept to its edge and looked down on the trees sheltering the hut. The netting and camouflage paint worked well. Even though we knew what was there, we couldn’t pick it.
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